Fire kills chicken, damages barn and contents owned by Laura and Mark Sullivan on Stage Road in Cummington

Last modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CUMMINGTON — Seven volunteer fire departments from the Hilltowns which responded early Sunday to a fire at 320 Stage Road helped save a barn and some of its contents from destruction.

“This was a serious fire that had really gotten involved,” Cummington Fire Chief Bernie Forgea said.

One chicken died in the fire, and no injuries were reported to people. The cause remains under investigation, Forgea said.

Firefighters arrived at 5:45 a.m. to find flames shooting out over the doors and windows of the barn. “Anybody looking at it would have said the barn was a goner,” Forgea said. “But those firefighters went in, put that thing out, and were able to save a lot of equipment inside.”

Forgea said that firefighters also responded from Chesterfield, Dalton, Goshen, Plainfield, Windsor and Worthington.

Firefighters pumped water to the scene from a pond across the street and used large amounts of foam to smother the flames. “We had to use some serious foam, about 32 gallons of Class A foam,” Forgea said.

Firefighters also had to use an aerial bucket to access the top of the barn and cut through a tin roof that had recently been replaced.

Owners Laura and Mark Sullivan live in the home with their 16-year-old twins Mackenzie and Macalister, and their 9- year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Bombardier.

Laura Sullivan said the couple woke up to the smell of smoke and initially thought it was coming from a woodstove.

“We got up and went to the barn and we saw smoke coming out from under the roof,” she said. “We had no idea how much flame there was underneath.”

After Mark Sullivan called 911, the two began using buckets of water filled from a backyard pond to try and douse the flames. Eventually the couple realized their efforts were in vain and decided to remain clear of the quickly spreading fire, Laura Sullivan said.

“I had just put all of the hoses away for winter,” she added.

The barn was primarily used to store a large boat, heavy equipment and tools and one section was a woodworking room.

The structure also housed a chicken named Lu, a family pet which had been the sole survivor of a raid by a fisher that killed the Sullivans’ 26 other chickens. Lu was killed in the fire.

“I still can’t believe it,” Laura Sullivan said. “But you know, when the wind changed, that put everything into perspective because the fire could have easily spread to the house.”

Forgea said that it was a “typical rural firefighting situation with no hydrants and narrow roads, and while it was cold and windy, at least there wasn’t 15 feet of snow on the ground.”

Laura Sullivan said the barn was insured and the family will likely rebuild it if they can. She said there was no immediate estimate of the damage. Mark Sullivan purchased the property roughly 20 years ago and the couple has been working on improving the home and grounds for the last 18 years.

Laura Sullivan said, “Bernie was the first one to arrive on Sunday morning. (Sunday) night after working since 5:30 a.m., he came out to the house at 9 p.m. and checked things out again for us. I really can’t say enough about how fast they got here and what they did. Bernie is great and the crew was just amazing.”

Forgea said, “I am very proud of everyone that was at the fire. We had superior help from mutual aid with a crew that anticipated what needed to be done and did it. Everyone involved should be commended.”


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